Michael Gary Speaks

Our physical place in Philadelphia at 17th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is a defining characteristic of Friends Select School. We are continuously deepening and expanding our opportunities and the partnerships afforded to us by our location and proximity to world-class institutions, and are allowing the city to be our classroom.

What other school has been selected by Global Philadelphia Association to display the first in a series of public artworks representing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals? Do you know of any other lower school students with the opportunity to combine STEAM and social justice in order to raise awareness and inspire action to support migrant children affected by U.S. immigration policies? Can you imagine, as a middle school student, spending an entire day off campus for comprehensive, immersive learning to examine the interconnectedness of your studies at locations such as the Franklin Institute, Bartram’s Gardens, Magic Gardens, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology? What if you had the opportunity, as a high school student, to use your talents to benefit those less fortunate through Color Me Back, a program that combines art-making and access to social services while offering individuals who are experiencing economic insecurity an opportunity to earn wages? What school teaches Mandarin in lower school through upper school and frequents Chinatown, our neighbor, to offer an engaging educational experience? What school’s close proximity to City Hall means students can use it as a venue for mock trial competitions? These experiences, and many more like them, happen at Friends Select and distinguish us from other schools in and outside the area. 

Just as our physical location lends itself to opportunities for our students, it comes with a responsibility to steward our city and its resources. As a Parkway educational institution and the only pre-kindergarten through 12th grade Quaker school in Center City, we are entrusted to give back to Philadelphia as much as we receive from it. This year, we are embarking on a cross-divisional, collective commitment to help those affected by homelessness. 

Friends Select will concentrate its service efforts on homelessness for years to come to teach our students empathy and social justice while also instilling in them a sense of lifelong learning, self-advocacy, and student agency. We are “letting our lives speak” through our mission to place learning at the service of society, illustrating our Quaker tenets through action, and creating positive change in our larger community of Philadelphia.